George Howerton, 94, Dean Emeritus of the Northwestern University School of Music, died April 8  at the Columbus Manor Nursing Home in Salida, Colorado, where he had been a resident for nearly two years.
Howerton served as the School of Music's fourth dean from 1951 to 1971, after having joined the faculty in 1939. During his appointment as dean, he was given the responsibility of overseeing a then unprecedented gift of $4 million to the School of Music ‹ a bequest from the estate of the late philanthropists Louis and Elsie Eckstein. Under his direction, emphasis was placed on further improving the University's music education program and bringing many distinguished American and European performing artists to the School of Music faculty. Among the artists were soprano Lotte Lehmann, composer Aaron Copland and French organist Marcel Dupré. Howerton also inaugurated the school's first opera workshop and strengthened the music library's holdings of books and manuscripts.
His influence on the School of Music at Northwestern continues today. "George is held in great affection by those who worked with him," said Bernard J. Dobroski, current School of Music dean. "I keep in touch with hundreds of alumni, and so many recall not only the value of their education but the attention and support Dean Howerton extended. He knew everyone by name."
He joined the Northwestern music faculty as director of choral activities in 1939. As director of the University's A Cappella Choir, he appeared in numerous programs broadcast nationally by ABC, NBC and Mutual radio. He also prepared many choruses for performance with the University Symphony, the Chicago Symphony and the Ravinia Festival. He was widely known through the U.S. as a guest conductor and music clinic director adjudicator.
From 1951 to 1966, he was a member of the National Council of the Metropolitan Opera, which promoted national auditions for promising operatic stars.
Howerton was a life trustee of the Ravinia Festival Association Board and at one time held the post of vice president; a governing member of the Chicago Orchestral Association; and a former president of the national music honor society Pi Kappa Lambda from 1960-1966. He also was a member of the educational committee of the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
He received his bachelor's degree from William Jewell College in 1926. He later went on to earn his master's degree from Columbia University Teachers College and his doctoral degree from Northwestern University while teaching at the School of Music. Howerton also studied at the University of Southern California, New York University and Harvard University and he studied organ with Marcel Dupré in Paris.
Howerton's greatest influence on his adopted Salida, Colo., hometown was to help establish the Salida-Aspen Concert Series, which each summer brings artists to the community from the Aspen Music Festival.
A memorial service was held in Salida. Memorial contributions may be made to the George Howerton Memorial at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension, P.O. Box 983, Salida, Colo., 81201.